Bike: BMC Fourstroke 01 XX1 Rocket Ron 2.1 Snakeskin / Thunder Burt 2.0 Snakeskin 1.60 / 1.60 bar. Stans Notubes Valor wheels.
The RaceThe first major goal for the season: Billingeracet. The first race in the Swedish Marathon Cup (Långloppscupen). And also on of the toughest races in the cup. Last year I had a great race and finished in second place. Expectations were high for this year.
The TrackThis track really suits me as it's hilly (for Swedish conditions, it's nothing like the Alps) and has a long starting climb. The climbs of the track can be summed up as: One long starting hill, one middle hill, and then the last climb (which is really two climbs after each other) that ends almost at the finish line. The terrain is really rooty and I keep forgetting this and so each year I think that perhaps I should optimize for weight and ride my hardtail... This would be a BIG misstake so I'll just put this here:
REMINDER TO FUTURE SELF: NEVER EVER CONSIDER RIDING BILLINGERACET ON ANYTHING BUT A FULL SUSPENSION BIKE
The StartI got of to a good start up the hill and I saw Robert Eliasson (one of the quick guys in my class) just in front of me and passed him as the top of the climb approached. It turns out that Robert and I were third and fourth at this point and that two M40 guys were already in front of us.
Quite early on a group of about 10 riders formed. The pace was very high, especially on the single track parts where the same guy would often take the lead (a guy with an orange aero helmet) and push the pace way up, and then let go as soon as we got out on a gravel road. I dug in and held on to the wheel ahead of me.
The MiddleAs we were approaching the half-way mark of the race there was a bit of a technical downhill section where part of the group went ahead. At this point I was on the wheel of Rolf Svensson and he was going well downhill, however not as quickly as some of the young guys who were passing us. I decided to go around Rolf and bombed downhill. Then we got to the middle hill and I saw my group of about 10 riders some 20-30 meters ahead of me. I sprinted all the way up the hill and was able to join them at the top.
After the hill the pace got really quick and there were both riders going off the front and dropping off the front and off the back. Robert Eliasson and I seemed to be the only two M40 riders in the grouip at this point. This was when Robert took off and tried joining a small group of two riders who had gone ahead and I was unable to follow him
The FinishWhen we reached the last 20km of the race I noticed that Stefan Hellman (M40) also had joined my group which now was rather small with just one more rider. We continued in this way until the last long and steep hill. Stefan went ahead and I took his wheel. We quickly dropped the other rider (M30 I think) as we started up this last hill. Now the hill is sort of a two-part hill: First there's a climb, and then shortly it flattens out, goes a bit downhill, and then it's up to the famous Strupen climb.
While Stefan and I were climbing up this first part I noticed that someone was approaching from behind: It was another M40 cyclist who had raced us both down! Also I knew the guy: It was Lars Hansen. He caught up with us perhaps halfway up the climb and then increased the speed. I got on his wheel and Stefan let go. I could see him losing some ground on us, but not much.
We kept going up but the speed decreased and as I looked behind I saw that Stefan had almost caught up with us again. We went over the top together with Lars first, then me, and then Stefan. In this flat section between the hills there was a part were we went from a paved road and into a grass field, here I got my front wheel stuck in a hole and had to unclip. Lars got a few meters on us and Stefan was stuck behind me (sorry, Stefan!).
During the downhill up to the last part of the climb, Strupen, I saw Lars, some 50m ahead of us. And the distance stayed the same as we started climbing up Strupen. Towards the top of Strupen Stefan was able to sprint head of me and we ended up finishing just a few seconds apart; Lars in fouth place, Stefan fifth and I in sixth place.
Strava AnalysisOn every Strava segment in the race I had my best time ever and I finished the race 3 minutes quicker than last year. In spite of not placing as well as last year (when came second) I had a good feeling throughout the race and I felt very happy with it.
Heart rate data below shows the race was pretty much average for what I'd do in this kind of a race. I never got really tired or felt like I had to hold back
This is a race that I've done a lot of times so it's fun to look at Strava and see the three climbs that are in the race and how my times have progressed:
The first climb called "Långa Billingeracet startbacken" (with link to Strava)
The middle hill called "Öglundabacken"
The last hill: "Strupen originalet"